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What recruiters and hiring managers look for in a resume

What’s the first thing a recruiter notices in your resume? How much time do hiring managers spend on each CV? What are the things that turns them off? What can you do with your CV to stand out from the crowd?

Several years of operating in the HR arena has given Glancy, our guest blogger for this article, insights into the world of recruiting to answer these questions.

What recruiters and hiring managers look for in a resume

by Glancy Albuquerque

Your CV or Resume is the first thing that people see about you – this, of course, is in reference to a job hunt.

The first milestone to getting the job of your dreams is to make your CV speak for you – sell you and ensure you get invited for a discussion.

You know that; I know that, but still; most aspirants get it so wrong.

After going through hundreds of CVs through the years, I’ve some tips to share.

Let me give you a HR professionals’ perspective of what we see when we go through tons of CVs.

Firstly, there’s the initial skim – I quickly skim the profile ticking the basic checklist for the skills and qualifications that I am looking for. That’s simple enough. Takes most of one minute. If the CV doesn’t fit the check-list in the first skim, out in goes. Onto the next!

If the basic checklist does get ticked; onto the second level of scanning. A quick scan covers these areas – age, experience, specialties. Simultaneously, we are also looking at the soft aspects – spelling, grammar, aesthetics, and personal interests.

If you think anyone is reading the fancy heading describing your desires which reads something like this:

Seeking a challenging position to utilize my skills and abilities that offers professional growth and development…ta da da, blah, blah, blah!

The answer is NO.

No one has the time to read – pretentious, wannabe; mostly copy/pasted-from-another-CV – un-true statements.

So my advice is – get rid of it. They don’t work for you, nor anyone else.

What you can mention is a quick, one-liner synopsis or snapshot of yourself – something like:

A multi-directional, drilling professional with 20 years of experience on every type of oil/gas field.

You see this statement – it says it all, the relevant expert who reads it understands what a multi-directional driller is. That’s it. Job done. Those who know – understand.

Keep it specific, succinct and real.

It’s better to showcase your Employment Record in a table format which only states: Period – Company – Role/Location. This makes it very easy for the HR to get a crisp snapshot of your career time-line. This example should help. It also depicts very clearly if there are any gaps in your career. It prepares you to answer their questions. You don’t need to give detailed, verbose descriptions of your tasks.

Employment Record

Period No. of years Company Role/Location
August 2012 onwards till date 6+ E – Professor – mentoring M.Sc., Final year students in Drilling Completion & Production Operations.
July 2012 – Nov 2013 1.6 D – Secure Drilling Services Supervisor in the AsiaPac Region
Sept 2008 – Dec 2010 2.4 C – Sr. Directional Driller, UAE
Aug 2005 – Dec 2007 2.6 B – Directional Driller

Whatever you may have done in your career – try to keep your CV down to 1 or two pages. Remember, less is more. Yes, I know, you’ve done so much and how can it possibly be limited to one page?! DO IT!

Even Astronauts limit their core competencies to a single page. You can do it!

You can always keep detailed annexures which serve as memory refreshers and even produce them on demand – if asked.

Your CV should boast a smart, pic of your professional-self – coat and tie (no T-shirts), neutral background, good-lighting and do yourself a favour – get a professional to help you there. It’s worth the effort.

Areas that your CV should cover: Professional Experience, Academic & Professional qualifications, Special skills/specialities, References, and of course your contact details.

Put your contact details in the top right hand corner of the first page. You don’t want the HR exec to go hunting for your details in the CV! Believe me there are times, when people have actually forgotten to mention their co-ordinates. Sometimes, the details are hidden in obscure places.

You want the HR exec to reach out to you swiftly. Make it easy for them.

Trim your CV. Kill the extraneous. Lose the non-essentials. Remember what I said…1 page is ideal; two acceptable!

It’s always good to very briefly (I only mean a couple of lines here) touch upon your personal hobbies and interests. Employers are interested in well-rounded, balanced and passionate individuals. State your passion but keep it brief.

If you have a special skill that adds chocolate to your vanilla, highlight it. Highlight the Game Changer in you – the one skill that gives you the edge on the competition. You don’t know what I mean? Think! – if your job demands that you deal with international clients, your fluency in an foreign language (not considering English) is an asset.

More tips: use clean sans-serif fonts, do not use more than 2 fonts, optimize bullet-points. Avoid paragraphs – Save the details for the interview. Highlight major achievements.

Be crisp, be succinct, be honest!

Oh, did I mention to read your CV before you walk into the interview room? Read is not equal to glance-through here. If you have used ‘incomprehensible-to-layman’ words and I don’t mean the jargon of your field; I hope to God you don’t have someone like me on the opposite side. You don’t want to be out on a technicality, do you?

Are you thinking that it’s a lot of work to get that CV spot-on?

Relax. Chill. Let’s not forget, that that piece of paper can only get you so far.

The moment you walk into the interview room, you are on your own – alone.

So, here’s wishing you all the very best, friend.

Happy Hunting!
About the author: Glancy has been working with a multinational conglomerate (Siemens Technology & Financial Services P. Ltd.) as a Finance Analyst/Professional – in the cross domains of Finance and IT. With a career spanning 25 years, she has rich and varied experience across various corporate and diplomatic missions. She is also an HR expert and conducts Learning & Development programmes internally, as a counsellor / soft skills trainer. She holds degrees in Information Technology, Human Resources, English Literature, Psychotherapy & Counselling.

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